After a year of frustration, Evgeni Malkin had a bounce-back season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He made this year his and is showing his worth once more.
It’s true, during the season last year, Evgeni Malkin was hurting the Pittsburgh Penguins more than helping them. So badly, that Jim Rutherford, the Penguins GM, was entertaining the thought of selling him. Thank God they didn’t because his turn around campaign has been electric, and a crucial part of Pittsburgh’s success this year.
When the season was halted back in March, Geno had already eclipsed his stats from last year. Besides, his 74 points (25 goals and 49 assists) currently leads the team and by a long shot. His turnaround, coupled with his style of sportsmanship, has led him to be nominated as the Pens Masterton Award winner. 2019/20 has been great, but more accolades are sure to follow.
Whether it was the thought of being sold or just letting his team down, Geno got the message loud and clear. He worked his backside off in Russia during the summer and followed that up with a preseason where he treated it like the real one. All are concluding that he is this year’s best player on this squad.
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If his 49 assists tell us anything, it’s that he is team-focused as well. When Sid went out during the middle stages of the season, Geno took over just as expected. In the entirety of the NHL, only four other players all have a better point per game ratio (Malkin’s currently is 1.35 PPG).
In the 26 games that Sid was out, and he needed to take over, Geno scored 11 goals and 38 total points. He was a fire on offense, but he also bettered his defense, making him one of the best all-around centers in the league. He went from a diminishing, only power play option, to a force to be dealt with all of the time. It feels good to have our Geno back, doesn’t it?
He has more to prove in the playoffs, however, and I would ultimately expect him to do that. Even after long lay off, expect Geno to be all of who he was during the regular season. He is still on a contract with the Penguins for three more years, meaning that there is no rush on winning it all; this might just be the last good ride for Geno and the boys.